Episode 100: Celebration

Amunhotep III (Part 10): The Sed Festival, As Told by Kheruef Who Witnessed It.

In regnal year 30, Amunhotep III celebrated the first of his sed-festivals. This was a spectacular event, with a number of rituals and performances celebrating the King’s reign, and renewing his authority on earth. Some of these rites were truly arcane, hearkening back to the very earliest days of the Egyptian kingdom.

In this special episode, we explore the festival from beginning to end as it is recorded in the tomb of Kheruef, a royal official who witnessed the celebration…

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The Sed-Festival

All pictures from the Tomb of Kheruef at Thebes (Oriental Institute publication) unless otherwise noted

Phase One

100.1.0 kheruef

Kheruef from his tomb at Thebes.

100.1.1 sed robe

The Pharaoh clad in his sed-robe, accompanied by Queen Tiy.

100.1.2 enthroned

Pharaoh enthroned, after illuminating the baldachin.

100.1.2 parade

The procession of courtiers, led by the standard of Wep-wawet (top-left), the jackal god who is “Opener of the Ways.”


Phase Two

100.2.1 kheruef rewarded

Kheruef given the gold of honour, later defaced.

100.2.2 daughters of great ones

The “Daughters of the Great Ones” pour libations before the King.

100.2.3 musicians

Musicians play flutes and clap in time.

100.2.4 menat

menat-necklace, used as a percussive instrument (Met Museum).


Phase Three

100.3.1 night bark

Sailing in the Night Bark/Barque, by Pharaoh, Queen Tiy, and royal officials (including Kheruef).

100.3.2 djed 1

Raising the Djed Pillar.

100.3.2 djed 2

Worshipping the Djed Pillar.

100.3.3 battle pe and dep

The ritualised Battle of Pe and Dep; priests grapple with each other in symbolic combat.

100.4.3 kheruef leading soldiers

Kheruef (right) leads officials, soldiers, and fan-bearers in the King’s presence.


Phase Four

100.4.1 cattle

The cattle procession: leading the cattle around the walls “four times” on the day of the festival. The driver at right prods his wayward charge and tells him “do not walk the way you are looking!” In other words… “Eyes forward, straight ahead!”

100.4.2 dancers 1

Clappers and percussionists for the ritual dance.

100.4.2 dancers 2

Ritual dancers perform for the King.


Patreon Thanks

This episode was generously supported by the following patrons, who pledged at the Overseer and higher tiers. Thank you very much folks! And extra thanks to those Patrons who have previously donated to the show (you know who you are). Your support means the world ❤

Hereditary Nobles ($20 p/m)





Overseers ($10 p/m)












C.J. Bleeker, Egyptian Festivals, 1968 (Google Books).

Epigraphic Survey, The Tomb of Kheruef: Theban Tomb 192, 1980 (Oriental Institute).

Eric Cline and David O’Connor, Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign, 1998 (Amazon).

Aidan Dodson, Amarna Sunrise, 2014 (Amazon).

Henri Frankfort, Kingship and Ritual, 1978 (Oriental Institute).

Erik Hornung, Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: the One and the Many, 1996 (Amazon).

Arielle P. Kozloff, Amenhotep III: Egypt’s Radiant Pharaoh, 2012 (Amazon).

Arielle P. Kozloff and Betsy M. Bryan, Egypt’s Dazzling Sun: Amenhotep III and His World, 1992.

Donald B. Redford, Akhenaten: The Heretic King, 1984 (Amazon).

Music by Keith Zizza www.keithzizza.com

Music by Jeffrey Goodman www.jeffreygoodmanmusic.com/

Music by Derek and Brandon Feichter https://dbfiechter.bandcamp.com/


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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Daniel L. says:

    Hello, according to Robert Ritner the Djed was originally a representation of a tree seen in this video from 5:18: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG3Or8SMYh0&t=518s

    Love the podcast, thank you!

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Thanks! 😊

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